Choosing the Right Cargo Bike Rack

Choosing the Right Cargo Bike Rack

There are many options on the market regarding cargo bike racks. Whether you are traveling in a car, on a bike rack, or on a motorcycle rack, there are several factors to consider.

The first thing to consider is the weight of your bike.

You will want to choose a rack that can handle the weight of your bikes without causing you any problems.

Purchasing a bike rack is an important decision. To further complicate the process, more options are now available than ever.

There are many factors to consider, including your vehicle type, the number of bikes you need to carry, the type of bikes you have, the style of rack you want, and how frequently you intend to use them.

Here are some key factors to consider when choosing the right cargo bike rack:

Types of Bike Rack Carriers

  • Hitch racks – Fit into a trailer hitch receiver and carry bikes at the vehicle’s rear. Offer ground accessibility.
  • Roof racks – Attach to roof rack bars or crossbars and carry bikes on top of the vehicle. Provide greater clearance.
  • Trunk racks – Mount to the rear trunk/hatchback using straps or clamps. Convenient for sedans but with limited clearance.
  • Pickup bed racks – Special in-bed mounts for carrying bikes in pickup trucks. Require no roof or .

Vehicle Compatibility

  • Confirm the rack fits your vehicle make/model and meets any roof, hitch, or trunk requirements.
  • You may need additional clips, adapters, extensions, or parts for your specific vehicle.
  • Consider rear tailgate or hatchback clearance when opened.

Bike Capacity

  • The number of bikes you need to transport simultaneously for family or group rides.
  • Ability to expand capacity with add-ons – some racks can convert from 2 to 4 bike capacity.

Other Accessory Compatibility

  • If you need to carry non-bike items like cargo baskets, luggage, skis, kayaks, etc. concurrently. Not all racks accommodate both.

Clearance Needs

  • Standard rear or roof racks may not work if you park in garages with low clearance. Low-profile racks are available.


  • Entry-level racks under $200, mid-range $200-$800, premium racks over $800.
  • Consider lifespan and long-term costs – better quality means years of use.

Researching your specific vehicle, bikes, and needs will ensure you select the right cargo bike rack type and features.


Hitch- racks are a popular option for transporting bikes using the trailer hitch receiver on the back of a vehicle.

Here are some key things to know about racks:

  • Fit into a 1.25″ or 2″ receiver hitch – confirm your vehicle’s size.
  • Allow ground-level loading access without lifting bikes high.
  • Offer greater bike capacity than roof or trunk racks – usually 2-4 bikes.
  • Require no roof rack, and don’t block rear access when folded up.
  • Provide more security than trunk racks – bikes lock to rack.
  • Keep bikes farther from hot exhaust and dirt from the road.
  • Require a hitch receiver to be installed on the vehicle.
  • Can carry other gear like cargo baskets with the right attachments.
  • Range widely in price based on materials, bike capacity and features.
  • Come in hanging, tray, or platform-style bike cradles.
  • It may reduce ground clearance – which is not ideal for very low vehicles.

Hitch racks provide sturdy and accessible transportation for multiple bikes. But they do require a towing-capable vehicle and hitch receiver.

Research bike frame compatibility and weight limits when selecting a .

Kuat Sherpa 2.0 – 2″ – 2-Bike Rack – Gray Metallic, Gray Metallic/Orange Anodize
  • 2 Bike capacity up to 40 lbs. each
  • No-tool install with hand tight hitch cam system
  • Semi integrated bike lock
  • Rear tire cradle features co-molded strap to protect wheels

Last update on 2024-03-01 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Roof Bike Racks

Roof-mounted bike racks allow transporting bikes securely on top of a vehicle.

Key aspects of roof bike racks include:

  • Require roof rack bars or crossbars to be installed on the vehicle.
  • Lift bikes higher, so it takes more effort to load and unload.
  • Offer aerodynamic profile and open rear access when loaded.
  • Typically carry 1-3 bikes depending on the model (less than hitch racks).
  • Separate bikes from the hot exhaust and road debris below.
  • Require sufficient overhead clearance for garage access.
  • It can impact gas mileage from wind resistance when loaded.
  • Offer locking bike cables, but racks can’t usually be locked to the vehicle.
  • Use clamping or bracket mounts to attach firmly to bars.
  • Accommodate various bike frame sizes and types with adjustable cradles.
  • Range from under $100 for simple fork-mount styles to $500+ for premium racks.
  • Enable transporting bikes on vehicles without hitch receivers.

While less convenient for loading, roof racks provide secure bike transportation and flexible positioning options when rear mounts are unavailable. Consider wind noise and MPG impacts when loaded.

Kuat NV 2.0 Bike Rack, Gray Metallic, 2″ Hitch Size
  • 2 Bike capacity up to 60 lbs. each
  • Holds wheelbases up to 48” and tires as large as 4.8”
  • Adjustable front tire cradle system
  • Fully integrated cable locks
  • No-tool install with hand tight hitch cam system

Last update on 2024-03-01 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Trunk Bike Racks

Trunk bike racks provide a convenient way to transport bikes on vehicles with a trunk or hatchback design.

Key features include:

  • Clamp or strap onto the rear trunk/hatch area for transportation.
  • Typically hold 1-3 bikes maximum.
  • Offer easy ground access without lifting bikes onto the roof or hitch.
  • Block access to the rear cargo area when loaded.
  • Softer cradles and pads protect the bike finish.
  • Require no hitch receiver or permanent mounting hardware.
  • Less stable than hitch or roof racks – more bike movement.
  • Concern for possible paint scratching from attachment points.
  • There is no built-in way to lock bikes to the rack. Require separate locks.
  • It tends to be the most affordable bike rack style ($100-$300 range).
  • Best suited for lighter bikes – maximum weight capacity around 35-40 lbs per bike.
  • Fit a wide range of car makes and models.

For sedan-style vehicles, trunk racks provide a versatile and easy way to transport bikes without major mounting modifications required. Just ensure bikes are firmly secured.

Pickup Bed Bike Racks

Pickup truck owners can opt for a specialized in-bed bike rack system to transport bikes using the cargo bed.

Benefits include:

  • Bikes are carried in the pickup bed away from external elements.
  • Various mounts like rails, cross bars, and brackets to secure bikes.
  • Ability to close the tailgate and lock bikes inside the truck bed.
  • No rear or roof rack system is required.
  • Protects bikes from weather, road debris, and potential theft.
  • The truck bed remains free for hauling other gear.
  • Both fork-mount and upright wheel-mount styles are available.
  • Requires mounting hardware permanently installed in bed.
  • Loading and unloading involves climbing into the truck bed.
  • Reduced max capacity – usually carries 2-4 bikes max.
  • Can restrict access to truck bed for other bulky cargo.
  • More costly than hitch or trunk racks, averaging $400-$800.

For pickup owners seeking an integrated solution, in-bed tailgate racks keep bikes protected inside the cargo area when transporting.

They are lockable for bike security.

Happy Biking!

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